Songs of the sea

Chris Ricketts
Chris Ricketts
Boris Giltburg. Picture by Sasha Gusov

Celebrate the Triumph and Passion with the BSO at Portsmouth Guildhall

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Chris Ricketts is a 21st century shantyman.

The 23-year-old folk singer-songwriter from Copnor has been involved in Portsmouth’s folk music scene since he was 15.

It was at one of Fairport Convention’s Cropredy festivals that he realized he wanted to be a full-time folk musician and since then he’s been developing a repertoire with his own unique approach to the material.

Bringing youthful vision to songs drawn from deep in the folk tradition, he won our Guide Award for Best Folk/Roots Act in 2008 and reached the semi finals of BBC Radio 2’s Young Folk Awards in 2009.

He released an album called Mudlarks (named after an old Portsmouth tradition) locally, then moved away to study Folk and Traditional Music at Newcastle University.

Working in a duo with fellow Portsmouth native Mark Willshire, Chris then released the album Simple Folk.

Now, he’s releases a third album, his first official solo release and the first record on his own label, Acoustic Fusion Records.

Port of Escape features support from Garry Blakeley on strings, Alex Stack on drums, Steve Hampton on double bass, electric guitar, lap steel and mandolin, plus group harmony vocals from Todd Hooker, Steve Hampton and Chris himself.

After a worldwide tour this summer, the album has recently been featured on BBC Radio 2.

Chris will return to Portsmouth on Tuesday to launch the album with his full band in a show at The Cellars At Eastney.

He says: ‘I’ve been away for the past three years in Newcastle, so it’s like a homecoming gig and The Cellars is a great venue, a wonderful place.

‘It’s great news that it’s been saved, recently.’

The album if officially released on November 7, but local fans can buy advance copies at the gig on Tuesday.

Support comes from plus The Portsmouth Shanty Men and Sean Fisher. Tickets cost £8 in advance from (023) 9282 6249 or, or they cost £10 on the door from 7.30pm.